Leave some grass for turnout time unless farm is lightly stocked
This time last year — just in case you need reminding — a lot of st k were already housed.
This year has had its ups and downs, but at least the backend of the year has been kind, so far.
The ideal grazing conditions of September and October have been a great bonus for livestock farmers, hopefully reducing their winter silage requirements, and taking pressure off slurry stores.
Underfoot conditions have rarely been better, as we head into November next week. Growth continued at relatively high levels in recent weeks, and many have given in to temptation and gone back into (or will soon go back into) fields that they h a d already closed for the winter. Undoubtedly, growth has been fantastic, but you really must look to next spring at this st e (unless your farm is lightly stocked, see below).
Are animals on late October grass pe as you require, and what grass will you have left at turnout in the spring? Obviously, most farmers are in a tight situation for fodder saved for the winter, and may need to stretch the grazing season so that they will not run out of feed in the spring.
Is this the correct strategy? It all boils down to doing a feed budget and having accurate silage analysis. There is a lot more feeding in pits than you think, because most silages are quite dry this year.
If you are short of winter feeding, now is the time to buy additional supplies. There is no point waiting until next spring to buy feed when it may be scarce and higher priced.
Animal performance from grass in October, November
Weanlings that remain out, unless they are being supplemented with concentrates, are unlikely to be achieving growth targets.
This is more of an issue if these are heifers you intend on bulling to calve down next autumn or even next spring. They need to be growing well, and in a positive energy status, in order to reach sexual maturity and begin cycling well in advance of the breeding season.
For bulls or bullocks, you intend on selling next spring, any reduced weight gain now will significantly lower your sale price.
Spring calves still with cows are benefiting hugely from a good quality creep feed, because the power has gone out of their grass, and cows are near drying off.
Try to keep cows rearing calves on the best qualit grass available, because this will help maintain cow milk yield and quality, while also improving her abilit return to cycling.
As nights get colder, it is critical that magnes m supplementation is done right, with an ample supply of licks for the number of cows in the group.
Grazing heavy covers and preparing for 2019 silage
If your farm is lightly stocked, then you can afford to graze on, because demand will not be very high in the spring. However, if you are heavily stocked at turnout time next spring, then you really need to consider housing some stock relatively soon. Obviously it is bett to graze off any heavy covers in order to ensure sward quality next spring.
If you are exclusively grazing silage fields, that is a different st y, because next year’s crop will benefit from being grazed tight in the backend of the year.
In fact, it is evident that those who graze silage ground tightly in November without doing damage, rather than grazing it in the spring, tend to produce an excellent first cut each year.
This is down to being able to take a much earlier, if the ground was grazed tight before Christmas.
Independent dairy and beef nutrition consultant Brian Reidy, Premier Farm Nutrition, can be contacted at email@example.com
At last Saturday’s National Dairy Show in Millstreet, Sean Kelly, MEP, congratulated Áine O’connor and Gillian Casey who, along with Máire Moylan, represent Coláiste Treasa, Kanturk, in the Certified Irish Angus Beef Schools Competition.